Seems like old home week here on The Flash, as we’re introduced to not only the Elongated Man from the comics, but also Machete himself, Danny Trejo, as Breacher, Gypsy’s father. This should certainly be an interesting episode, especially after last week‘s seeming descent into jump-the-shark territory. Meet me after the stretch and the super speed jump for my thoughts on “Elongated Journey Into Night!”
We open on Cisco and Gypsy about to get their schmoopy on. That’s a bitchin’ (is it Cisco’s place Barry was talking about in “The Flash Reborn“?) Matrix poster he’s got on the wall. Too bad Danny Trejo as Breacher, Gypsy’s dad, blows it up. This is classic B-plot. Breacher doesn’t like the man dating (and maybe a lot more based on this scene) his daughter, and wants rid of Cisco. After Cisco takes him for coffee at Jitters, Breacher announces he wants to hunt Cisco, implying he will take his life when he catches him in twenty-four hours.
If not for the corny music playing in the background, and how everyone (including the showrunners) treating this like a joke, this would be a major threat for the whole team. An extradimensional breacher, a friend’s father or not, has threatened to kill Cisco – that’s major, right? It’s a joke, from Cisco pretending he runs S.T.A.R. and the team to Trejo using his deadpan face of terror to comic effect to his calling our boy ‘Cisky,’ all a joke. It got old very quickly, was a waste of a great guest-star, and a waste of the viewers’ time.
The Elongated Man
On to the A-plot. Superheroes pair up, they make best friends, work buddies, like Superman and Batman back in the pre-Frank Miller good old days. For a while Green Lantern and the Flash were best buds, but as GL started to hang out with Green Arrow more often to ‘search for America’ as the relevance craze took over comics, Flash turned more to his other buddy to be his partner, and no, I’m not talking about his sidekick, Kid Flash, I’m talking about Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. This stretchable sleuth, a master detective with elastic powers gained through exposure to an exotic drink called Gingold, and major gimmick throughout the Silver Age was that his secret identity was publicly known, hung out with the Flash quite often, teamed together more often than not.
I first was introduced to the Elongated Man in 1971’s Flash #210, the comic that also hipped me to the fact Iris West-Allen was from the 30th century, with that famous cover that had Adam Strange inexplicably flying through the future. The Elongated Man back up featured an intriguing mystery with a man, if memory serves, started the story eating a magazine. When Ralph later guest-starred in Justice League of America #100, and joined the team just a few issues later, I was sold, I was an E-Man fan. He would remain a close friend of the Flash for years to come, even once becoming the villain the Molder, but even that bit of brainwashing didn’t tarnish their friendship. Ralph became a longstanding member of the JLA, even lasting longer than the Flash, and his wife and partner Sue also joined.
The Colors of Evil
That’s how it happened, but what if it didn’t? I remember reading somewhere that ralph Dibny began creative life as a villain, one of the Rogues, one of the Colors of Evil, and got turned around somewhere in production. I’ve talked about the Colors of Evil before, and extensively on this week’s episode of The GAR! Podcast, and I recall that the Elongated Man was created originally as one of them. The Colors of Evil were created as the villains for a hero named Captain Whiz by Carmine Infantino, and then used as the templates for the Flash’s Rogues Gallery.
In the Colors of Evil, each of the villains corresponded to a different color – Captain Cold was White, Captain Boomerang was Blue, Gorilla Grodd was Purple, the Top was Green, Mirror Master was Orange, and so on. Could the Elongated Man, whose origin was told in almost the same way as the other Rogues in the Flash comics, have been meant to be possibly Violet, the color of his first costume? It is a good question, as this television version of Ralph Dibny makes him out to be Barry’s rival and a bad cop… almost a villain here as well…
As the search for the ten new mystery metahumans continues, along with the creepy hunch that someone is behind it all, we’re re-introduced to Vito D’Ambrosio, from the 1990s series, reprising his role as Tony Bellows, now mayor of Central City. Things are not as they seem. Finding that the driver of the dark matter bus has passed away under mysterious circumstances, Joe and Barry find a business card among his effects – one for a certain private investigator named Ralph Dibny. They know him, Barry got him fired for tampering with evidence when he was a rookie, as intimated above, they are not friends.
Hartley Sawyer has a face perfect for the character of Ralph Dibny, sharp chin, rubbery face, and he can smell a mystery (referencing his twitching nose for mysteries in the comics), I only wish he was more ginger. The wardrobe department does a good job with his tie to bring out what red there is. Much like Breacher and Cisco, his theme music makes him out to be comic relief as well. He’s a sleazy private dick, as someone graffitied on his office door. As it turns out, he was on the bus, and affected by the dark matter – his power, what else, stretching.
Barry thinks leopards can’t change their spots and immediately puts Dibny in the villain column on their chart of the dark matter villains. Ralph is all stretched all out and unable to control his powers. It was telegraphed in the previews, but I laughed out loud when Joe pukes after seeing what Ralph’s face looks like after sneezing. There is also a fart joke. Thank goodness they did not enter the sexual arena. I hated it when Kevin Smith went there, and he is a master of such things. Caitlin thinks she can stabilize his powers but also thinks the opposite of leopards as Barry.
Somehow Ralph is connected to the mayor, and as it turns out he’s blackmailing the mayor with photos of an indiscretion he had, and Bellows not a nice guy, he’s the one after Dibny. As disappointed as I was that Bellows turned out to be the bad guy, so I was that Barry was right, Ralph is also a bad guy. I really didn’t want it to come out that way. This comes just as I was starting to like TV Ralph. Not good, in so many ways. Much like this week’s Aflac commercial, there is very little to change my mind about The Flash having jumped the shark, no wonder DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is beating the CW’s once most watched show in the current ratings.
Much like the classic, and clichéd, A and B plot collisions that were a staple of later Brady Bunch episodes, Breacher mistakes Ralph for a Plastoid, one of the race that devastated his world, and attacks. The Flash can’t even stop him, so Vibe steps in, gaining his girlfriend’s father grudging respect. In the madness, Bellows takes Joe hostage, and only Ralph can save him. Too easy, too convenient, and too fast. I think I hated this more than the end of the last episode with its similar shark-jumping. And Danny Trejo is played for one big nonsensical joke, completely wasted here.
On the positive side, we do get some very good moments with Joe and Barry, good father son time. I liked this and wished there was more. Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin have good chemistry together, let’s see this more. I hated the ongoing “glowing” joke though, and why does it take so long for Joe to tell Barry that Cecile is pregnant? That infuriated me. Not as much as the Plastic Man reference, though. It’s not a dumb name, it’s the better name…
In our stinger, we get a truce between Barry and Ralph, with the latter seeming to join the cast, as a detective (I guess Joe and Barry are chopped liver) to find the remaining now nine new dark matter metahumans. And then Ralph tells Barry that it was a mysterious voice named DeVoe who told him to investigate the mayor. At least the enemy now has a name for team Flash to dread, one they’ve heard before as being ‘up there’ with Zoom, Thawne, and Savitar…
Next: “Girls Night Out!”